CORAL GABLES, FLA. (WSVN) - After a lawyer identified a man who, he said, robbed his Coral Gables office, another victim decided to speak out, leading to his eventual arrest and an appearance in court.
The suspect, who has since been identified as 24-year-old Richard Jones, appeared before a judge on Wednesday morning and was denied bond.
He is facing charges of theft, burglary and attempted felony murder connected to cases from late July to Tuesday afternoon.
“When he stole these women’s wallets, he did it with force, and so he’s escalating,” said Coral Gables Police officer Kelly Denham.
“He seemed like a nice guy, he really did,” said alleged victim Dorothy Thomson. “He didn’t seem menacing at all.”
Thomson said she was coming back to her Coral Gables office from lunch on July 30 when a man followed her inside.
She said Jones asked her for a donation for a football trip. Thomson said she gave him $10 and went to leave when she asked him if he’d like a cold drink for the road.
Thomson said that’s the moment he came back, stole her wallet from her desk and took off.
“It’s caused a lot of anguish ever since,” she said. “Anyone coming in the door — even yourselves coming in today — it gives me pause for thought, unfortunately. You try to do good for people, like I offered him a Coca-Cola, so he wouldn’t have a long walk in the heat, and I end up with the consequences.”
She said not only her ID, credit cards and cash were taken, but also some irreplaceable personal items.
Thomson still considers herself lucky she wasn’t hurt.
Investigators said on Sept. 2., Jones went into another business on South Dixie Highway using the same donation strategy.
The victim gave him $20 but said he pushed her down, kicked her repeatedly in the rib cage and stole her wallet before fleeing the scene.
“She spent a week in the hospital,” said Denham.
Attorney Brian Barakat was also targeted when he said Jones walked into his office on Tuesday afternoon.
“He enters here, sort of walks back here and looks around, and he steps into this office,” he said. “What’s really shocking about the whole thing is that it’s the exact same clothes, the exact same clothes.”
Barakat said when he saw the story of the man stealing a laptop from the Brickell office building on Sept. 1, he had no idea he would come face to face with the alleged burglar at his Coral Gables office.
“When we saw it, it resonated. We circulated it to the staff to be on the lookout,” he said.
Surveillance video captures the crook at Barakat’s office on Ponce de Leon and El Maria Avenue at around 12:30 p.m., walking through the back door before making his way through the front door of the business.
“He told her he was soliciting for his football team,” said Barakat, but staff members recognized him from the aired story of the Brickell burglary.
The man wandered around the office some more and eventually left, but Coral Gables Police officers were waiting for him outside.
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